These Patio Lighting Ideas Amp Up Your Outdoor Ambiance

house and swimming pool lit at night
22 Patio Lighting Ideas for Outdoor AmbianceLisa Romerein - Getty Images

Spending time outdoors is what warm weather is for, but relying solely on natural light means the fun ends when the sun goes down. The best patio lighting ideas don't infringe on your outdoor space's existing natural beauty; they enhance it. Recessed lighting, for instance, is so subtle you’ll hardly notice it. Proper lighting can also improve the safety of your patio or deck by illuminating steps, uneven terrain in your backyard, or the border of your pool.

Incorporating deck lighting ideas into your outdoor space might sound daunting due to the prospect of added electrical work, but in most cases, you won’t need any additional wiring beyond what you already have. If electrical outlets and wiring are scarce, you can still rely on candles, lanterns, and trendy cordless lamps to light up your patio or deck.

No matter what kind of lighting you're looking for, we've rounded up the 22 best patio lighting ideas. From tree-strung globe lights to classic stake options, there's a perfect patio or deck lighting idea for any outdoor space. Enhance your evenings outdoors and keep the party going long after the sun sets.

Inspiration for your outdoor area:

Try a Candelabra

Patio lighting ideas can be just as elegant as your indoor fixtures. Take inspiration from designer Christina Rottman who chose this candelabra so the dining area could be “casual by day and dressy by night.”

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santa barbara
Jonny Valiant

Install Task Lighting

In an outdoor kitchen, lighting is crucial to ensure the cooking goes off without a hitch. Instead of rigging something complicated, you can install a single task-style light for total patio lighting focus.

a large outdoor grill
Pernille Loof

Utilize Your Trellis

A trellis—or row of trellises as seen in this Jeremiah Brent-designed patio—can do more than simply support your vining plants. Hang a series of outdoor lanterns from them to light up your space. Bonus points if your fixtures are battery- or solar-operated to eliminate cords.

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los angeles home designed by jeremiah brent design garden
Shade Degges

Use What You Already Have

When your patio is located just off your home's exterior, you can simply use the lighting that's already installed. For a multidirectional glow, the outdoor fireplace casts light on a cozy summer evening.

this sandstone patio, just beyond the glass doors of a bedroom by designer brooke wagner, is outfitted with palecek seating and a custom fireplace for enjoying the southern california climate durable, sedimentary rock pavers like these can be sourced in a wide color range to suit any style

Hang a Row of Pendants

To illuminate this long outdoor bar, the team behind Intimate Living Interiors chose four woven pendants centered over each place setting. The texture of the lights in this patio lighting idea mimics the woven bar stools for a cohesive look.

Related Story: Home Bar Ideas to Channel Your Fave Cocktail Lounge

a table with chairs and a table with a lamp on it
Brantley Photography

Look for Antiques

This covered patio is grand on all accounts, and it's only made better by the classic, brass chandelier that hangs over the seating area. If your interior has a particular aesthetic, don't be afraid to emulate that in your outdoor space as well.

covered porch designed by dodson interiors outdoor living room
James Nathan Schroder

Use Taper Candles

If you're only outdoors after dark on select occasions, keep your patio lighting ideas temporary as well. A mix of blue taper candles and rattan-wrapped hurricane votives offer ambient lighting that can simply be extinguished when the party's over.

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patio dining table

Keep It Simple

In this outdoor patio in Louisville, Kentucky, designer Bethany Adams chose a singular lantern fixture to illuminate the space. It's placed closer to the doorway than the seating area to allow for functional visibility.

bethany adams front porch in louisville, kentucky outdoor living room
J.L. Jordan Photography

String Shaded Bulbs

A step above using Edison-style string lights, designer Sheldon Harte opted for multiple lines of strung bulbs with clear shades to help direct light downward. This kind of patio lighting idea is handy when outdoor outlets are in short supply.

Related Story: The Best Outdoor String Lights for Your Patio

lounge with willow and steel pergola designed by sheldon harte outdoor living room
John Merkl

Hardwire a Chandelier

Your patio is an extension of your home's interior, and you should design it as such! Because this patio is covered, the homeowners were able to install a traditional light fixture to bring a modern edge to this outdoor living room.

Related Story: 10 Outdoor Room Trends Designers Are Obsessed With

california outdoor living room by designer michelle boudreau
Lance Gerber

Try a Row of Hurricanes

Candlelight is romantic, but it can be just as bright as a bulb when clustered in a group. A row of glass hurricanes with large pillar candles inside elegantly light this walkway. Plus, if you opt for citronella candles, your lighting can double as bug repellant.

tree, green, plant, woody plant, wall, shrub, leaf, furniture, garden, room,
House Beautiful

Hang from the Trees

Using tree branches offers a smart patio lighting idea for spaces short on outlets and extension cords. Hang a pair of woven globe pendants with flameless tea lights inside to artfully illuminate the area.


Light the Way

Installing small lights on each step of your outdoor stairway allows them to serve as an ambient feature and a safety measure. Choose a finish that coordinates with your home's exterior for cohesive curb appeal.

patio lighting ideas
Romanek Design Studio

Sneak In Recessed Lighting

For a patio lighting idea that takes up virtually no space, opt for traditional recessed can lights. The frames can be painted to match their installed surface for that seamless look. In this space designed by Monica Santayana and Ronald Alvarez of MONIOMI Design, white shiplap makes the lights almost disappear, so you only notice them when they're on.

outdoor living space decor ideas
House Beautiful

Barely There Bulbs

When overhead outdoor light is rarely needed, like by the swimming pool, a pair of outdoor spotlights provide the perfect amount of visibility. Take this patio lighting idea from designer Michael Ellison and this open-frame, poolside pergola.

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nantucket home designed by michael ellison poolside
Nicole Franzen

Illuminate with Garden Stakes

A quick and cost-effective way to install patio or deck lighting is through solar- or battery-powered stake lights. These low-profile lights are sleek yet durable enough to withstand any summer storms that roll through.

Related Story: The Best Outdoor Lighting Options for Style and Safety

backyard ideas
Jennifer Skinner

Cluster Woven Pendants

To recreate the ambiance of your favorite outdoor restaurant, go maximalist with your lighting scheme. Designer Eric Olsen chose these woven pendants to help accentuate the 20-foot-high ceiling beams in this space. The texture of this patio lighting idea also helps to bring a natural touch into the mostly hardscaped surroundings.

a room with a staircase and chairs
Karyn Millet

Get a Combination Ceiling Fan

Relaxing outdoors is all fun and games (literally!) until the heat wave rolls through. Opt for a sleek ceiling-fan-and-light combination fixture to maximize visibility while staying cool. The all-white model in this Caroline Rafferty-designed space nearly blends in with the paneled ceiling.

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caroline rafferty patio
Thomas Loof

Focus a Spotlight

In this Jean Liu-designed backyard, the lights are so subtle that they're practically unnoticeable. But just under the trees, you'll find a slim spotlight that shines a single beam to moodily light this patio space.

patio with modern fountain and sitting area
Stephen Karlisch

Install Plug-In Sconces

In patio environments where hardwiring isn't possible everywhere, like this indoor-outdoor patio by Kingston Lafferty, choose plug-in fixtures where it makes sense. The key is to try and match the hanging cord's color to the affixed surface.

blue tiles in al fresco dining room
Kingston Lafferty Design

Highlight a Walkway

For a safer outdoor space, focus your patio lighting ideas on the major walkways. Two subtle outdoor lights frame either side of this stairway to better illuminate the terrain.

lush front yard inn wine country
Matthew Millman

Hang String Lights

String lights, while often associated with college dorm rooms, can actually be chic when used correctly. Take inspiration from this cozy outdoor patio and cross a pair of fixtures to focus the lighting where you need it most, like over the al fresco dining table.

patio ideas
Tec Petaja

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